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An Ax To Grind (1706 -- 1790)

By Benjamin Franklin (1706 to 1790)

When I was a little boy, I remember, one cold winter morning, I was accosted by a smiling man with an ax on his shoulder. "My pretty boy," said he, "has your father a grindstone?"

"Yes sir," said I.

"You are a find little fellow!" said he. "Will you let me grind my ax on it?"

Pleased with the compliment of "fine little fellow," "Oh, Yes, sir," I answered. "It is down in the shop."

"And will you, my man," said he, patting me on the head, "get me a little hot water?"

How could I refuse? I ran, and soon brought a kettleful.

"How old are you-and what's your name?" continued he, without waiting for a reply. "I'm sure you are one of the finest lads that I have ever seen. Will you just turn a few mintues for me?"

Tickled with the flattery, like a little fool, I went to work, and bitterly did I rue the day. It was a new ax, and I toiled and tugged till I was almost tired to death. The school bell rang, and I could not get away. My hands were blistered, and the ax was not half ground.

At length, however, it was sharpened, and the man turned to me with, "Now, you little rascal, you've played truant! Seud to school, or you'll rue it!"

"Alas!" thought I, "it was hard enough to turn a grindstone this cold day, but now to be called a little rascal is too much."

It sank deep into my mind, and often have I thought of it since.

EDITOR'S NOTE: The moral behind Benjamin Franklin's story is this, don't be sucked in by those who work to flatter you so to gain some advantage. Such selfish intentions do not deserve your attention.

Al Colombo, publisher

Source: The Elson Readers, Book Five, pp.295, Copyrightę1911

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